The AJ100 Festival and Bristol


The AJ100 Festival went virtual for the first time this year, offering a host of talks and free-to-attend virtual events spread throughout the week in addition to announcing this year’s award winners. 

Congratulations to the 3 big award winners:

Haworth Tompkins – Practice of the Year

HLM Architects – Employer of the Year

Glenn Howells Architects – Building of the Year (English National Ballet HQ in East London)

Other highlights included an opening day talk from RIBA president-elect, Simon Allford of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, a closing day presentation from the 2020 RIBA Gold Medal winners, Grafton Architects’ Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and an AJ100 Club event discussing Bristol in Focus. 

The latter, we will break down in a bit more detail. Hosted by the AJ’s Managing Editor Will Hurst, it featured panellists Barra Mac Ruairí, currently leading the University of Bristol’s Estates department; Architect Yuli Cadney-Toh, ex-BDP, Woods Bagot and RHS+P; Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Spatial Planning & City Design Councillor Nicola Beech and Architect and Designer Shankari Raj of Bristol-based Nudge Group. 

The talk follows on from the AJ’s February special edition which also focused on Bristol as a city for Architects and from the perspective of a few the city’s emerging smaller practices. 

A few key points became evident from the AJ’s commentary and the panellists’ opinions:

Bristol is a city which actively seeks high-level design solutions. It was encouraging to hear Cllr Nicola Beech’s enthusiasm for her role within Bristol City Council and the supported message from the Mayor to push forward urban design solutions. Furthermore, with Yuli’s involvement in both the Design West review panel and the West of England Combined Authority design review panel, Bristol’s design standards are in safe hands. Hopefully in the next phase of Bristol’s growth, key areas like the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone will showcase Bristol’s culture to the world. 

The diverse people and culture of Bristol breed positive activism and push the city forward. The people of Bristol have caused global shockwaves recently in the furthering of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is a city where opinions are held strongly and spoken loudly. As a result, engaging with the local communities provides highly complex and challenging design briefs, but often, as Shankari spoke, produces very interesting and unusual solutions. The gap house, designed by BDP and showcased at the Bristol housing festival, is one such example. 

Bristol’s architectural community is thriving. A city which has always offered a route out of London for Architects and designers and was often seen as just a satellite to the London community has now become a design hub in its own right. The University estates department, headed up by Barra, is commissioning new projects from local high-profile architects including AHMM and FCB and also exciting international designers including Schmidt Hammer Lassen which will only improve the draw to the area for new architects. 

In conclusion, this year’s events have exposed Bristol in a positive light as a resilient and community-driven city in which high-level design and architecture can operate freely. The city feels cautiously optimistic and ambitious about the future. Our thanks to the AJ for putting a spotlight on our favourite city and for hosting a wonderful week of talks and events.


If you are looking to relocate to Bristol, or find out more about the architectural market and opportunities across the UK, don’t hesitate to contact mustard BE, where we can partner you with an expert consultant in your region. 

This blog was written by Joe Bungey, Team Leader - mustard BE. He covers all things Built Environment, including Architecture, BIM and Developer led clients and candidates in the South West. To reach him please get in touch on 0117 284 0069 or at


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